Predators (Part 1 of 2)
Predators works as direct sequel to the first two films and fits into the groove and vibe of the first film. Story wise, it also hints at the same structure as the first movie. There are so many callbacks that I probably missed them all. Most of the movie is fine and very entertaining, but it is the middle of the film that falls apart. I felt the movie needed another 15-20 minutes to flesh out all the story points laid out in the film.
A group comprised of mercs, soldiers, and killers all find themselves stranded in the middle of a strange jungle. They soon discover that they are no longer on Earth, but a different planet. And, they also discover that the Predators are hunting them down for sport.
The first 30 minutes where the characters walk around and attempt to figure out what, where and why they’re there is very entertaining. One character even notes that the sun hasn’t moved in a few hours and the compass is way off. This whole first act harkens back to the first movie somewhat, but here the people aren’t much of a team. I also enjoyed the big reveal at end of the first act with them realizing that they aren’t on Earth anymore.
From there, the story shifts into the Predators and the group fighting and hunting each other. For the most part, director Nimród Antal does a good job keeping the action kinetic, but not confusing. Antal’s direction fills the role, but it doesn’t have the style of John McTiernan’s first movie, but that’s okay.
With the directing being fine, the biggest problem with the movie is the script. There are a few missteps that almost derail the entire movie for me, namely the total shift in tone and structure with the introduction of Laurence Fishburne’s character Noland into the movie. The movie is moving along nicely when it hits a brick wall in the form of Noland. He is a crazy army guy left in the jungle surviving the hunting parties. Since he’s been there for a long time, he’s gone a bit crazy. The problem is the character could have easily been deleted from the movie with some minor reshoots. All the pacing the film had goes out the window when the group shacks up with Noland.
Noland is there to merely tell the moviegoers that there is a blood feud going on with to sub-races within the Predators. And, it is one version of the race we haven’t seen before. Noland seems to want to help out the group and quickly turns on them for no reason. Despite the movie trying to tell us why he betrays them, it still makes no sense. And the heel-turn renders the character useless to the plot. And, the character is promptly gotten rid of with no big fanfare or sendoff.
Laurence Fishburne deserved better than what he received in this movie.
As I wrote earlier, the movie needed another 15 minutes to sort out some of the interesting concepts in the movie. Such as the Predators clearly can communicate with the humans and do in fact understand them. Because one character talks to one of them and the Predator clearly understands him.
Another concept that is interesting is the fact these Predators capture humans and send them to this game preserve to be hunted down. There is a lot of history that could have been hinted at. If you remember in Predator 2, one Predator hands Danny Glover a Civil War style gun. Thus, implying that the Predators have been studying humans for ages now. We would have seen remains of human beings from some of the war time eras throughout history.